There is a sense of urgency as Spring Valley opens its third season under Miles Aldridge tonight at Lower Richland.
“The coaching staff and the core kids have been together for three years, and we’ve made progress but we’re still not close to where we want to be,” said Aldridge, who guided the Vikings to a 5-6 record in 2011.
But the bottom line is: Spring Valley has not had a winning season or made the Class 4A state playoffs since 2006.
“We’ve made improvement but, quite frankly, we need to make the playoffs this season and I fully expect us to,” Aldridge said.
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“Being a good football team, to me, it’s all about the toughness and commitment of your athletes. Right now, we’re a tougher, more committed team that’s hungry to win some games.”
If Spring Valley is going to make the jump back to relevancy, it will have to begin on defense.
“To win in football, you have to have a defense that can stop people and that’s something we have not been able to do consistently enough,” Aldridge said. “I think this year we finally have the personnel up front to compete physically and we’re pretty deep in the secondary.”
Aldridge said nose guard Tre Brunson (6-1, 228), ends Joey Maxberry (6-3, 208) and Anthony Vickers (6-2, 200), inside linebackers Matt Evans and Chaz Tallant and outside linebackers Josh Harlan and Christian Miller (6-3, 195) comprise a capable front seven.
The Vikings coach said the secondary assignments could change game to game, depending on the offensive style of the opposition. Senior Kyle Stiffler, who had 33 tackles and two interceptions a year ago, is one of the unit leaders.
Spring Valley is still a work in progress on offense. There is little experience up front. There is a new quarterback and a new kicker. Also, veteran running back Jason Free is injured and might not be available anytime soon. Free ran for 699 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 7.0 yards per carry last season.
Until Free returns, junior John Miller (362 yards, 3 TDs, 5.7 average) is the most proven runner.
“We have some questions, but we’ve been pretty solid offensively and I think we will be again,” Aldridge said.
The new quarterback is junior Chris Adams, who is more of a running threat than Austin Hill, who started last season.
“(Adams) is athletic, knows the offense and should be a threat in the option,” Aldridge said. “But, can he lead this offense?”